The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 3:
Encore for Murder
by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
performed by a full cast starring Stacy Keach
Mike Hammer is a private investigator whose sense of justice is predicated less on the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. Bordering on vigilantism, Hammer’s actions are backed up by an ethos born of Post-War morality and by a Colt .45 named “Betsy.” Max Allan Collins has updated the time line to make Hammer a Vietnam veteran; and the story takes place in present day New York City; but Hammer comes across as something of a relic of a bygone age and as someone who neither understands nor respects due process or authority. Hammer, whose intractable sense of right and wrong and belief that the end justifies the means, exacts a rough justice for those who stand in his way.
In “Encore for Murder,” Rita Vance, an ex-girlfriend of Mike Hammer’s, needs a bodyguard. Making an acting comeback by starring in a Broadway show, she has been targeted with a series of threatening and anonymous letters. Mike Hammer agrees to protect her out of a sense of chivalry and because he has the sexual drive and control of an adolescent. It’s difficult to imagine the universal sex appeal that Spillane and Collins imbue Mike Hammer with, as the brand of machismo that Hammer wears is about as dated as his sense of justice and the Fedora he sports.
The sex and violence are blunt and even vulgar in places, not in what is being described but in how they are described. The crudity of the prose and sentiments combine to make some scenes cringe-worthy.
Stacy Keach played the role of Hammer in the 1980s television series and returns as Hammer in the audio dramas. Keach has superseded other versions of Hammer in the public eye and has invested much of his talent in successfully preserving the legacy. As such, he is Mike Hammer and the perfect casting choice for The New Adventures.
There is a different set of expectations going into The New Adventures, production-wise, than for other audio dramas. The New Adventures take more from the playbook of radio dramas instead of trying to create a virtual soundtrack of the story. The Foley and voice enhancements are rather ham-fisted in comparison; but match the prose’s style and writing manner well.
In “Encore for Murder,” Mike Hammer is an underage soldier in the Vietnam War. No date was specified in the story; but let’s say Hammer was sixteen years old the year that Saigon fell (April 30, 1975) – that would make him fifty-two to fifty-three years old in 2011/2012. That is definitely better than being a nonogenarian (cf The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 2: The Little Death)! But is it still too old for Mike Hammer to be behaving the way he is behaving (i.e. like a fifteen year old when it comes to his libido and action adventure tactics?)
The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 3: Encore for Murder (by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; performed by a full cast starring Stacy Keach) qualifies for:
I received a MP3-CD edition of The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 3: Encore for Murder (by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; performed by a full cast starring Stacy Keach) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. under reviewer auspices. I had no involvement in the production of The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 3: Encore for Murder (by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; performed by a full cast starring Stacy Keach.) I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.